Chris Wolfe's blog
I recently encountered a problem when attempting to install ACT! 2009 Premium on a clients computer. Every time I ran the installation program, the following message appeared on the screen.
error 1327.Invalid Drive: N:\
Then the installer would close itself.
The machine was running Vista Business and had a mapped drive to a NAS called N:\.
Early searches led me to think it was a problem with either a previous installation or the Installer program itself. This did not make sense as ACT! to my knowledge had never been installed before on the machine.
Disconnecting Drive N: did not make a difference nor did running the Sage ACT! special uninstaller program just in case.
A quick phone call to Sage was next, who denied the problem was with their product but with the installer service on the computer itself. However, they did give me some information in passing which eventually helped me fix the problem.
According to Sage, ACT! copies some demo databases to the My Documents folder on the PC which is hardcoded to be on Drive C. This PC had the My Documents folder mapped to the NAS drive for backup purposes. Once I remapped the My Documents back to the local drive, the ACT! installation was able to run and it installed without any further problems.
So if you are seeing this error then check that your system does not have any odd drive name allocations or remapped My Document folders.
Here are runPCrun we use a lot of equipment - servers, routers, switches, workstations, if it has a plug then chances are we've opened the box, took a good sniff and installed it.
Since we have a large amount of clients it is good sense for us to standardise on what we use to make our life easier. One of the most important thing to standardise is the firewall. Our choice of firewall needs to have the following features:-
Affordable - it would be hard for us to recommend our SOHO clients to spend £1000's on expensive kit - they'd simply refuse. Also, we have seen firewalls that come with features locked unless you pay extra license fees. One firewall we replaced for a new client actually only had room for 3 port forwarding rules!
Flexible - Every client is different. Some clients have multiple internal machines on non standard RDP ports, some have FTP servers with strict IP lists. Once client wanted to block port 25 from all machines except one. The firewall we choose can do all of these and if not, chances are somebody has written an open source module that can be installed.
Easy to Manage - We have seen some firewalls that can require you to go on a course just to add a simple port forwarding rule. Of course, you do need to know what you're doing when working on any firewall but a easy to understand user-interface goes a long way to help. Our firewall has a simple GUI and if you want to get your hands dirty, a full command line interface.
Stable - You need a firewall that measures it's uptime in months and years not hours and minutes. Our choice has been running in some installations for over 5 years without a single problem. Now that is staying power.
The firewall of our choice is IPCOP It's free and it's fantastic!!
We use old P3 based Dell's but for our clients we like to use small mini-ITX based units for increased reliability. These cost approx. £300 + VAT which for our clients is reasonable. We have lost track of the number of times we have taken on a new client and found a complex, over specced firewall in place. Firebrick, Watchguard all good products but a nightmare to manage so they quickly find a new life on ebay or we simply chuck them.
Installing Vista and Activating TPM with Bitlocker
The Premium version of Vista comes with a new feature called Bitlocker. This encrypts the whole disk partition and offers protection from out of operating system data compromising. For extra security this technology can be enabled with something called TPM, or Trusted Platform Module, a chip on the motherboard that can securely store and generate encryption keys. Here is how I installed such a set up recently for a security minded client.
Since we are a Dell reseller, I purchased a new Dell OptiPlex 745 desktop which comes with a TPM chip.
TPM & OptiPlex 745
Now, the first issue - To activate BitLocker, the system needs to have it's disk partitions set up in a certain way which the Dell website simply did not offer. The disk needs to have a small unencrpyted boot partition and a large OS partition which will be encrypted.
Rather than worry about how the OS would be delivered, I ordered the PC without an OS and ordered a copy of Vista Ultimate OEM
Once the PC was unpacked and set up, the first task is to switch the TPM chip on in the system BIOS. This is a two stage process. Once you enter the BIOS, locate the "Security" tab and turn TPM on. There is another setting called "Activation" which must be enabled as well. Save the BIOS and reboot. You should get a warning that the BIOS TPM settings have been modified - this is OK, so select "Modify" and continue. Now, I recommend going back into the BIOS and double checking the TPM chip actually is on as the first time I did, for some reason it wasn't and you will get an error later.
Now reboot with the Vista disk in the DVD drive. Since my harddisk was empty, I was able to create the partitions in the way recommended by Microsoft. A good page to visit and recommended reading for the whole process is the Microsoft technet site article - Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption Step-by-Step Guide
A client asked me to take a look at their new Dell Dimension 3100 computer which was refusing to allow them to transfer their photographs from their camera.
The first thing I tried to do was plug in my generic USB flash drive which contains all of our software toolkit.
I recently had a Dell D505 laptop in the workshop that refused to install Service Pack 2. Each time, it just stopped on "Checking Product Key"
The product key was correct but it could get no further - the Update process would then use 100% of the CPU and had to be closed manually.
After searching the net, I found a few other users with the same problem and generally the solution was to reinstall Windows with SP2 slipstreamed into it already. Since this was already a fresh install after a hard disk failure, I was not keen on this plan.
We recently had a client who applied Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 1 on their Dell Poweredge 420SC server. On reboot, they were greeted with the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD) with the error message.
STOP 0x00000051 (REGISTRY_ERROR)
The server would then reboot and then do it all again. Safe mode and Last Known good configuration made no difference.
After searching the net, it turns out that this is a known problem on older Dell Poweredges that have had a factory install of Windows on.